Lai Chee Kien

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Alumni Adjunct Associate Professor

Pillar / Cluster: Architecture and Sustainable Design


Chee Kien is a registered architect in Singapore, and researches on histories of art, architecture, settlements, urbanism and landscapes in Southeast Asia. At other times, he is a writer, artist, designer, curator and traveller.


  • PhD, Architectural History and Urbanism, University of California, Berkeley
  • M.Arch. by research, National University of Singapore
  • B. Arch. (Hons.), National University of Singapore
  • B.A. (Arch. Studies), National University of Singapore

Professional Associations & Affiliations

  • Director, Board of Directors, International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments (IASTE, U.S.A.)
  • Member, Badan Warisan Malaysia (Malaysia)
  • Member, Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (Malaysia)
  • Member, Nature Society of Singapore (Singapore)
  • Member, Singapore Heritage Society (Singapore)
  • Member, South Seas Society (Singapore)

Local Advisory Boards

  • URA Conservation Advisory Panel (2012-present)
  • URA-MND Bukit Brown Cemetery Heritage Advisory Working Committee Member (since November 2011)
  • URA-MND Rail Corridor Consultation Group Member (since 2011)
  • MICA – National Art Gallery Implementation Steering Committee Member (2005-2006)
  • MICA – National Art Gallery Museological Sub-Committee, Deputy-Chair (2005-2006)

Research Interests

Histories of art, architecture, settlements, urbanism and landscapes in Southeast Asia.


  • Supervisor of dissertation awarded a Commendation Prize at the Royal Institute of British Architects President Medals and Student Awards 2013, for Mr. Srisaravanan Subramaniam’s Seva and the Shrine: Transcending the Boundaries of the Hindu Temple in Singapore.
  • Winner (as Supervisor of Studio Group), Mubin Sheppard Memorial Prize Cycle 9 (2010/2011): Category: Conservation Area Study [Taiping, Malaysia]
  • Honourable Mention (as Supervisor of Studio Group), Mubin Sheppard Memorial Prize Cycle 9 (2010/2011): Category: Conservation Area Study [Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia]
  • Supervisor of dissertation awarded Honourable Mention [only prize in the dissertation category], Mubin Sheppard Memorial Prize – Cycle 8 in 2009, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for Mr Craig San Kin Mun’s Builders in Malaya: A Study of the Construction Industry in Kuala Lumpur at the Turn of the 19th Century, 2007

Selected Publications


  • Through the Eyes of Lee Kip Lin: Photographs of Singapore 1965 – 1995, Singapore: National Library Board, Singapore, and Editions Didier Millet, 2015.
  • Last Train from Tanjong Pagar, (graphic novel, in collaboration with Mr. Koh Hong Teng) Singapore: Epigram Books, 2014.
  • Cords to Histories (In English and Chinese), Foong Shoon Fui Kuan art and culture series, vol. 10, ed. Chong Wen Ling. Singapore: Foong Shoon Fui Kuan, 2013.
  • Building Merdeka: Independence Architecture in Kuala Lumpur, 1957‑1966, Kuala Lumpur: Petronas, 2007.

Book Chapters

  • “Camp Architecture: Places and Home”. In Giving Strength to our Nation: the SAF and its People. pp. 103-109, ed. Goh Eck Kheng. Singapore: Landmark Books, 2015.
  • “Imagining Nanyang: the Framing of Southeast Asia in Wong Kar‑wai’s movies”. In Asian Cinema and Space: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, 109-125, ed. Lilian Chee and Edna Lim. Routledge, 2015.
  • “Epilogue”. In Iversen: Architect of Ipoh and Malaya, Ruth Iversen Rollitt, 213-4. Penang: Areca Books, 2015.
  • “The Nation and Its Murals: A Reading of Figural Images in Malaysia, 1957‑69”. In The Nation: Narratives and Communities in the Asia Pacific, ed. Norman Vasu, Yolanda Chin and Kam‑yee Law, 30‑54. Comparative Development and Policy in Asia, ed. Ka Ho Mok and Rachel Murphy. Oxford: Routledge, 2013.
  • “Sonny Chan: Situating Architectural Worlds”. In Green Ink on an Envelope: The Architectural Practice of Chan Sau Yan Sonny, ed. Ho Weng Hin and Tan Kar Lin, 24‑27. Singapore: Singapore Heritage Society, 2013.
  • “Filtered Cosmopolitanism and Southeast Asia”. In Singapore Metropolitan Region, 153‑154. Singapore: Centre for Advanced Studies in Architecture, DOA, NUS, 2013.
  • “Ventilation Blocks and their use in Southeast Asia”. In Casting Architecture: Ventilation Blocks, 23‑27. Singapore: Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore, 2013.
  • “Rambutans in the Picture: Han Wai Toon and Overseas Chinese Space in Singapore”. In Singapore in Global History, ed. Derek Heng and Syed Muhd Khairuddin Aljunied, 169‑195. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2011.

Journal Articles

  • “Malaya in Art and Architecture”. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Vol. 16 no. 1 (Revisiting Malaya): 113-127. Routledge: Taylor and Francis Group, 2015.
  • “The Path Less Travelled: No. 11 Geylang Lorong 24A”. Singapore Architect no. 273 (The New Conservators): 64‑73. Singapore: Singapore Institute of Architects, 2013.
  • “Post‑tropical/post‑tsunami: Climate and architectural discourse in South and Southeast Asia”. (co‑written with Dr. Anoma Pieris, University of Melbourne in Australia.). Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, Vol 32, No 3: 365 ‑ 381. (United Kingdom), 2011.
  • “Southeast Asian Spatial Histories and Historiographies: a re‑examination”. The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ), Vol 19 No. 2: 82‑105. (Australia), 2011.
  • “Maidan to Padang: Reinventions of Urban Fields in Malaysia and Singapore”. Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review, Vol 21 No 2: 55‑70. (United States), 2010.
  • “Beyond Colonial and National Frameworks: Some Thoughts on the Writing of Southeast Asian Architecture”. Journal of Architectural Education, Vol 63 No. 2: 74‑75. (United States), 2010.

Art Work

  • “Double Cauldron,” at Destruction X Rebirth, organized by WeJungle at The Mill, 5 Jalan Kilang, Singapore, 31 January – 14 February 2015.
  • “National Theatre @50,” commissioned for Singapore Biennale 2013, sited at Tank Road in Singapore from October 2013 – February 2014.
  • Sound recording titled “People’s Park Complex: an Urban Soundbox in Singapore”, The Sonic City, as part of the “Mutations Exhibition” TN Probe Gallery, Tokyo (Japan), 10 November 2001 to 26 January 2002.

Logo Designs

  • ICOMOS Singapore (International Council on Monuments and Sites), 2013
  • Singapore Dance Theatre, 1991
  • The Architecture Society, 1990
  • Tanjong Pagar Conservation Area, 1990
  • Popular Book Store, 1988

Alternate E-Mail Address

2021-08-11T10:13:36+08:00September 10th, 2015|Adjunct, Adjunct ASD|